There are more than 30 tea producing countries in the world and we get tea from many of them. Like cocoa, sugar, and coffee, tea is a product from colonial times, and the plantations in India, Sri Lanka, and East Africa represent remnants of the British Empire. In these countries, tea still represents an important good for export and foreign exchange. It is usually grown on plantations and not by small farming organisations.
From its history and its role in the current world trade system, tea, a prime agricultural product, is a key part of the Fairtrade system. It does not yield a price on the international markets adequate for a minimum standard of life for tea pickers and plantation workers. Their living and working conditions need sustainable improvement. Even though the workers are currently organised in cooperatives, most of the plantation workers still live isolated from society in barrack-like buildings without their own home or land. Fairtrade is working to solve the problems with higher prices, better conditions and long term relationships.